Superintendents urge legislators to agree on Illinois school funding plan

Superintendents held a news conference in Marion, Illinois, Monday as state legislators continued negotiations over a bill to change the funding formula for public schools.

"Just the vehicle to move the money from the state to the schools is in jeopardy, and to parents that’s got to be really, really frustrating," one educator said. 

Sandoval Community Unit District 501 Superintendent Jennifer Garrison was among a number of local superintendents who spoke out at the news conference. "This is like living pay check to pay check," she said.

She said at this point, her schools could barely afford to make it through September. "Any little thing will close our doors," she said.

"Truly going bankrupt and shutting down is what I’m taking about, which is so hard for me to even have this conversation, because this is public school children we’re talking about," Garrison said.

Monday’s speakers asked legislators to agree on a plan, so state funding can start going to schools. With 10 days away from the start of school, Brent Clark with the Illinois Association of School Administrators says legislators have no time to waste.

"No one in modern history has been in this moment where we’re this far into the summer and this close to school starting and no formula," Clark said. 

Negotiations continue over Senate Bill 1, a funding formula that would increase funding to every public school district. Governor Bruce Rauner says he will not support the measure, because he says it favors Chicago schools.

"Can they improve it? Probably so. They’re trying to do that through negotiations," Clark said.

A lot of questions remain over what that will mean for students.

"Were talking about not providing the basic services for our kids and our families that need us," Garrison said.

When the bill makes it to Rauner’s desk, he said he will use his amendatory veto power rewrite it and send it back to the Senate. A three-fifths majority is needed to override Rauner. If that attempt fails, the bill dies. The first payment to schools is due Aug. 10.

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